Interview | 01 Feb 2024

Leadership Lessons with… Thorsten Ratzlaff, CEO of Freeze Carbon

Posted in Business, Startups, Interview, Client,

Evolving regulations, key leadership qualities, and the importance of building a clear, simple brand. We recently spoke with Thorsten Ratzlaff, CEO and founder of Freeze Carbon, a sustainability startup based out of Germany, all about his journey to the sector, and what he envisions for the market in 2024 and beyond.

Take a look.

What drove you to launch Freeze Carbon?

I've had the pleasure of working across different industries, sectors, and with different people over the years. My career in investment and private equity was particularly influential. I developed a lot of valuable skills, and had a more holistic perspective on strategy, business operations and how it all fits together. Having that big picture view gave me a lot of comfort and confidence to start my own business, and combined with my interest in sustainability and carbon emissions, Freeze Carbon was born.

What's the story behind your brand?

It was really developed from looking into my own carbon footprint, and then those of different sectors in the market. The more research I conducted, I was able to identify the three steps companies needed to take to reach net zero.

Firstly, a brand must track its emissions. This helps leaders understand what they're working with. Secondly, it needs to take the appropriate measures to reduce them as far as possible. Most are left with ~10% of unavoidable emissions they can't get rid of. That's where the voluntary carbon market comes in to clean up those residual emissions. This can be a very complex process, so Freeze Carbon consults on how to make use of these projects for the better.

How long have you been in the market now?

We launched in March 2023, so it's been nearly a year. The B2B market takes a lot of energy and commitment, and trust is vital. We've been focusing heavily on building our brand in the market. In previous roles, I've prioritised sales over marketing, and that's been a big lesson for me. Spelling out your brand's value in very clear ways is always going to be more impactful than complex jargon, and that's a big drive for us. "Quality" and "simplicity" have been two essential words for us.

What are the personal attributes that have helped you succeed?

Certainly I've been very grateful for my career path and experiences. Now that we're growing and building up our team, authenticity has been very important. Having real talks, real discussions with peers and colleagues, and also connecting with our clients in the same way. We’re very real about our commercial model and want to encourage transparency.

What do you think are the key qualities needed from leaders in sustainability in 2024?

Sustainability leaders need to transform the mindset of their company. That starts with employees, and the projects they're working on, but it must go all the way up to C-Suite and investors/owners of the company. That will influence how funds and resources are allocated.

What sustainability trends do you think we'll see more of in the next 12 months?

Regulations are constantly updating and evolving. It's complicated; brands understand the current regulations, make a plan to achieve goals, and then they change again. The priority is about consistently improving rather than perfection. The next 3-5 years will be crucial, and I see a lot of positive movement.

How is Freeze Carbon preparing for regulatory changes?

We're always monitoring regulations, how they're changing and updating, and future-proofing ourselves as a company as well as our services. But by being at the forefront, we can help our clients understand the landscape more clearly, and feel confident in their approach.

Do you have one piece of advice for business leaders coming up in ESG and sustainability right now?

Form a strong network with anyone and everyone. What I've realised coming out of the financial and consulting spaces is that everyone can progress and benefit from one another's insights. It opens doors in the market that you might not otherwise have access to. We're all working towards the same goal.

Are you looking for a sustainability consultant to reduce your emissions and maximise your impact in 2024? Let us help you find the right professional to drive your brand goals.